Archive for October, 2009

Martinsville

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Hi Everyone –

It was another tough weekend for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team. We had NAPA Adaptive One Brakes on the car and they sure came in handy on Sunday. We saw quite a few teams lose tires and we were the first team to experience the problem. I think what we saw was typical contact at Martinsville that caused the tire issues. In my situation, I just got hit in the left rear. It flattened my tire. I was trying to get back to the pits to keep from spinning out. I just got in a little hurry and around went my NAPA Adaptive One Brakes Toyota. I appreciated having the NAPA brand on my car. You could see on the replay that my car came to a smooth stop. It also was a blessing in disguise. It I hadn’t spun out to cause the caution, we may have lost two laps versus just one. Regardless, we got behind and we could never really rally back because our car just did not handle well. It was so disappointing.

I want to give a shout out to Jimmy Spencer. If you watched Monday night’s This Week in NASCAR show, Jimmie was kind enough to stop by one of our stores. He gave NAPA a nice plug after having to pick up a brand new set of rotors and a set of Adaptive One Brakes. He said our parts are worth the money! I appreciate those kind words!

It was Denny Hamlin’s day on Sunday. The Virginia native was able to win another race in his backyard. It was his seventh-straight finish of sixth or better at Martinsville. Jimmie Johnson scored his 15th straight top-10 finish. They ended Sunday’s race first and second. That’s pretty impressive.

The one thing I noticed about Denny’s car was it had a tremendous amount of front grip. Denny’s car looked even better than Jimmie Johnson’s car. I was amazed at the way that thing would come up off the turn. When I came off the corner and he passed us, I would follow him. I could see how his car was hooked up. I only wished I could have had that same feeling. I couldn’t help but be envious.

There was definitely some tension out on the track. Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya were not happy with each other. The same could be said about Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. What I saw was nothing that was out of bounds. It was just competitors who were on the edge and were racing with their emotions. Emotions are a part of the equation. I thought everyone did a decent job of holding it together.

At the end of the race, we saw John Andretti spin with just a lap to go at the start-finish line. NASCAR did not immediately throw the yellow flag. I think what NASCAR did was fine since they threw the caution flag with the checkered flag when Denny crossed the line. That meant everybody’s position after that point was frozen. There was no sense in coming back to the line two or three wide. The drivers and the spotters know that where we were scored at that very point is where we finished. John Andretti was not put in any additional danger in my opinion. John Andretti and his race team did a good job on Sunday. They are a part-time team. They had a solid lead-lap run for most of the day. They lost some spots in the end, but they did a good job. They are doing what they need to do to keep their car in the top 35. They are racing Scott Speed for that 35th spot and it’s been a good battle to watch.

This weekend is Talladega. I can’t wait to race there. It is probably my best chance to win a race with what’s left of my career. I am going to be on it!

Bye for Now,

Charlotte 2

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Hi Everyone –

We went pink on Saturday and I want to thank everyone who supported NAPA’s “All Out for the Cure” campaign to benefit the Susan G. Foundation. I attended the Komen for the Cure press conference with Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, Kyle Busch and Elliott Sadler. Bobby said he hopes to see 43 pink cars compete at Charlotte someday and that would be great to bring awareness to the cause, but from a competition standpoint, I don’t think I’d want to be a spotter for that one! It was really neat to see everyone come out and show their support for finding a cure for breast cancer.

Saturday night I had a fast car. The NAPA team gave me something I could work with and I passed a lot of cars. I had a lot of fun and I like to go fast. I went faster than a lot of cars out there, but we had a problem on pit road. We had a plan to come in on a particular lap, but did not anticipate Brian Vickers having a long pit stop. What happened was when I was pitting he was leaving his stall behind us. It caused him and me to have a minor scrape. It then triggered a very chaotic moment. The crew guys didn’t know what was going to happen and in reaction, my jack man went down. Tony Cardamone is OK, but he is out for the season with a hair-line fracture to his ankle and some torn ligaments. The whole ordeal cost us a crew member and three laps. It was a bad situation that we could not afford. We had to live with our circumstances and make the best of it. We took chances with the wave around when those opportunities occurred. We did everything we could, but it never got us back on the lead lap. It’s a shame because we had a fast car.

The race weekend was pretty amazing. We saw something that I don’t believe I have ever witnessed during my NASCAR career. Jimmy Johnson won the first, second and third practices. He won qualifying and then the race. He currently has the biggest lead that anyone has ever had at this point in the Chase which is 90 points. I Twittered during the drivers meeting and took a picture of Jimmie. He was so intense. No one really pays a ton of attention in the meeting. But, he does. He was on it. I Twittered, “Fourth championship coming up!” With that said, I do not think he is guaranteed the championship – at least not yet. Martinsville and Talladega have the potential to throw a wrench into things if something bad happens to him and his team. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

I really enjoyed watching Jimmie and his teammate Jeff Gordon go door-to-door on those final restarts. I don’t think anyone realizes how difficult restarts are. After our pit stop problem, I spent most of the night lining up 32nd. I watched 30 guys try and work their way down the front straightaway at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. First of all, it is flat so getting 850 horsepower hooked up in 35 degree weather was a little difficult. Secondly, drivers have to make two turns and everyone has to do it together. To me, it is surprising that wrecks don’t occur more often. I think sometimes the folks watching at home take what we do for granted. That’s how good the drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are. It’s a difficult job to just get a restart going on, but we all manage and it’s impressive.

This weekend, we are off to Martinsville. It’s a track that’s tough on brakes which is why I am proud to be back in the NAPA Adaptive One Brake Pads Toyota. We’ll need them for sure this weekend!

Bye for Now,

California 2

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Hi Everyone –

It’s a busy week here at Michael Waltrip Racing as we are home this week for the race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Today I have a bunch of media interviews this morning and then we host our second Fan Appreciation Day. The weather isn’t all that good but that hasn’t discouraged the fans. They are lining up out front so it’s going to be a great day no matter what.

Last weekend at the Auto Club Speedway was a mixed bag for us. The NAPA AUTO PARTS team did a good job on pit road. I’m really proud of them. Gene Nead (crew chief) used strategy and got us a couple laps back. Then at the end, there was a huge crash. I got through it which was refreshing considering we’ve gotten caught up in our share of wrecks that weren’t of our own doing. I made a good move and got through it unscathed. 

This season we’ve seen the NAPA team run OK at times. But every time there’s a bumpy track like the Auto Club Speedway, our NAPA car is evil. It just bounces too much. I report it and we work on it but we were never really are able to improve on it. I’m disappointed in the way we performed, but I’m equally as enthusiastic about our work ethic. Sunday we worked hard and we didn’t give up. We knew there were options and opportunities. We took advantage of those and I couldn’t be happier about that for my team. Our top-20 finish was well deserved.

Before I go, I want to say how proud I am to be associated with the partnership NAPA has forged with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I’ve been wearing the pink NAPA All Out For The Cure hat and it is amazing how many fans have come up to me and thanked me for supporting the cause. This weekend we’ll be going all out as I will be driving the No. 55 NAPA/Susan G. Komen Foundation Toyota. My car has a lot of pink on it and I really want to have a good run so that we can get the guys up in the broadcast booth talking about NAPA and Susan G. Komen. It’s a big weekend for us and I hope to have a lot to talk about next week.

Talk to you next week!

Kansas

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Hi Everyone –

The NAPA team has had bad luck two weeks in a row. I didn’t even get to break a sweat yesterday. Paul Menard spun. I slowed down and missed him. Then I got crashed. Not a whole lot to report about except I really believe we had a competitive car yesterday. I was fast from the start and that was very encouraging. I have to say we haven’t been running as well as I hoped this year, but we’ll keep at it and hope to get a win for you guys before the season is over.

On Saturday night, I went over to Lincoln, Neb., for a dirt race at Eagle Raceway. I got to meet a lot of fans. I signed a bunch of autographs and then raced a dirt car. I won my second heat race driving a pink NAPA/Susan G. Komen dirt car. I am really proud of what NAPA is doing with the Susan G. Komen Foundation this year. They really are all out for the cure and so am I. I have even started wearing a pink NAPA/Susan G. Komen hat at the track to help spread the world and I cannot wait to drive my NAPA/Susan G. Komen Foundation Toyota in the race at Charlotte. My car will be blue and pink.  

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Tomorrow I will be on “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” It will be on at 8 p.m. Eastern on MyNetworkTV . I was asked that very question at the NAPA Race Day Experience. My answer was no, but I watched a couple of the other drivers who were playing and I am definitely smarter than them. Since we’ve had two bad races in a row, I’ve decided to do something a little different with the rest of this blog. I’d like to share with you some of the answers to the most asked questions I get at NAPA hospitality as most of those folks and maybe you would want to know. Did I recruit Martin Truex Jr. to come to MWR or did he come to us? It was 50-50. We have done some good things with our team. People started noticing. Not only guys like Martin, but guys like Pat Tryson, who is currently Kurt Busch’s crew chief. They are racing in the Chase. Kurt is currently fifth in the championship point standings. Pat is coming over to MWR to be Martin’s crew chief. A lot of good things have happened at MWR and we have made so much progress in our cars and they are running really well. So, some high-profile people have taken notice and have shown interest in joining our efforts. Are any of your children interested in being a driver? Do you see women drivers in the future of NASCAR?

I have seen women drivers in the past. They have been around forever, but none of them have accomplished everything that they had hoped. It is kind of confusing as to why since there is no physical reason why a woman couldn’t do our job. Mentally, they are obviously capable of doing the job as we are. I think maybe more so. I hope in the future that changes and a woman is able to accomplish a lot in the world of NASCAR.

My daughters Caitlin and Macy are not into racing so far. I think that is perfectly fine. If they wanted to drive I would try and help them. However, I am not going to volunteer it because I think there are more fun things that a little girl like Macy would rather do. Macy loves riding horses and running track. She’s just enjoying being a kid. That is right up there with me.

I did take Macy to the Richard Petty Driving School to get her a ride around Darlington Raceway. She thought it was pretty neat.

When will there be two NAPA Toyotas on the track?

NAPA is signed up to sponsor me at Daytona so there will definitely be two cars during the 2010 Daytona 500. My car and Martin’s car will be racing for the win. I hope to run a total of seven or eight races next season if MWR can get sponsorship to do so.

I’m off to tape This Week in NASCAR.

Take care,

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